Did she really say that? Oh yes, she did, but in a different future. You may agree that our values depend on the world we live in. And when the world changes, values change too, and vice versa.
The VR experience 'FORE:sight Glasses' is the result of our collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the project VORAUS:schau! Based on the scenario study 'The Future of Values held by People in our Country,' we developed personal stories, speculative places, objects, and contexts for six futures that can be explored in an interactive VR experience. Such scenario studies combine drivers of change and possible developments to create futures that should inform the present's strategic decision-making. But what do these futures look like, how do they feel, are they preferable, and why? Only by answering these questions, they can become landmarks to head for, or avoid. For this reason, we shape empathic futures by making them local, personal, and relatable.
The Futures Swap
The VR experience shows six different futures: The European Way, Competition Mode, Return of the Blocs, Multi-Speed Society, Bonus System, and Ecological Regionalization, each driven by different values and narratives. Our task was to communicate them, but we thought it was essential to encourage people to think about the reasons for them, about the mechanisms that are going on in the background. So we wanted to make the futures comparable. What do similar objects look like in different scenarios? And what does their design say about the prevailing culture or the materials used about production paradigms and the availability of raw materials? As you compare the concrete materialization of things, you look behind their surface. That's why you can swap futures at any time in the VR experience.
Private and Public
Each of the futures is represented by two virtual spaces. One is a private environment, usually a home. The other is a public environment — a business, a learning community, or a game space. One is more about individual everyday life, the other about society.
The European Way
You are a scientist and just migrated to the EU as part of 'Talent New,' a new talent program. The EU is strong, proud of its values, and arrogant towards the rest of the world.
You are an entrepreneur and lifelong learner. Society is competitive and unforgiving. The successful prosper while others are left behind.
Return of the Blocs
You are part of the hacking elite. The society is revisionist, patriotic, and isolationist, the economy is almost disconnected from non-European countries, and the technology is unstable and of a low standard.
You are a casual worker and gamer. Society is divided into successful centers and left-behind peripheries, while virtual reality offers opium for the masses.
You are a good citizen. Almost everyone is these days. You earn bonus points for your good deeds and live the good life. Society relies on a democratically negotiated, digital bonus system. People have to be perfect. Otherwise, they will be socially disconnected, which is hardly reversible.
You are everything that's needed in a small community. At last, the ecological crisis is being addressed, and people live sustainable lives in sustainable communities. But the, social control can be overwhelming.